A) Should I take the exam? (From a student):

Dr. Lowery:
I was just wondering about the FE exam.  Do you recommend that all graduating seniors take it?  I graduate in May in Civil Engineering with a structures specialty.  I want to make sure this is something I should definitely do before I do it.  Thanks a lot. 
This is something all graduating seniors should DEFINITELY do. If you don't take it now, it will be much more difficult to take and pass later, after you have forgotten a lot of your basic materials. Right now your expected pass rate is around 90 to 98%. Later on your expected pass rate drops significantly.
If you take it now, and you never use it, you lose $115. But if your company needs someone to put an engineering seal on their work, you will be that guy, and paid accordingly. Also, if you want to start your own company and don't get licensed, you will have to hire a new Aggie to put their seal on all of your work - not cheap. Admittedly, you will probably have to hire them anyway since you won't be able to get everything done by yourself, but it is embarrassing to have to get your new hire to seal all of your work.
Taking this exam is a lot of trouble. It is a lot of hard work. It is expensive.
It is well worth it. Definitely take it.

B) When should I take the exam?

We are getting more and more evidence that you should take the exam the last semester you are in school.  The pass rate is significantly higher if you have that extra semester under your belt before taking the exam.

You cannot take it at A&M unless you are within 2 semesters of graduation:

"An undergraduate student who is within two full-time semesters (not including summer sessions) of graduating and who is enrolled in an EAC/ABET-accredited engineering program, a TAC/ABET-accredited four year baccalaureate technical program or an engineering-related science program of four years or more that has been approved by the Board [is eligible to take the exam]. A graduate student enrolled in a Master's or Ph.D. engineering program [is eligible to take the exam]."

If you wait until the semester you graduate, you will have picked up another full semester of course work that will be covered on the exam, which means you should have a much better chance of passing.

C) When is the exam offered?   The FE and FS exams are offered year-round as computer-based exams at Pearson VUE testing centers. Learn more about the Computer Based Testing here.

D) How do I register?  On the right, select "Select a State or Country."

E) Where will I go to take the F.E. exam?

For the F.E. exam, see http://ncees.org/exams/cbt/  and   http://ncees.org/exams/cbt/testing-center-locations/ 

F) General information on the exam

G) What will be on the exam?   NCEES states the exact type and number of questions which will be on the exam.  
               Click here for FE exam specifications 
               Click here for PE exam specifications

H) Am I eligible to take the exam?  And here for contact information regarding any other questions.  And here for qualification questions.

I) Does graduate school count towards the required 4 years experience?

Hello, I am a civil/structural engineer working for in Houston Texas. I graduated with my BS in civil engr. in Dec 08. I am considering going back and getting my masters while I continue working full-time. Will this count as an extra year towards getting my PE?  Will my four years be considered complete in Dec 2011 - three years after I graduated?  Since I went back and got my masters can the years count simultaneously?

From: Texas Board of Professional Engineers - George Hartmann [mailto:george.hartmann@tbpe.state.tx.us]
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 10:09 AM
Subject: RE: PE Question

If you complete a masterís in engineering from an ABET-EAC accredited engineering degree program, you can apply with three years of satisfactory engineering experience plus one year of credit for the advanced degree, can be simultaneous.

J) How is the exam graded?

K) When will I find out if I passed?  Seven to ten days after the exam.

L) I passed the FE exam.  Should I get the certification?

          EIT Certification is available, but not required to apply for a PE license in Texas. It does look good hanging on your wall, but that's about all it is for.

          See http://www.tbpe.state.tx.us/lic_eit_exinfo.htm

M) I passed the FE exam, but wonder if I should bother trying tor the PE.  My company has no P.E.'s under which to mentor.

Yes, you want to pursue a PE license.  If it is impossible to do so at your company, then it is impossible.  But most companies have registered professional engineers on board somewhere in the company, with whom you can partner, who will mentor you, and help you build up acceptable engineering experience so you can get your PE license.  Almost all engineers change companies 2 or 3 times during their careers, and with many companies the chance of you getting a good job are highly influenced by being a PE.  It is also critical if you decide to start your own company, which an amazingly high number of you do.

N) I am having real problems passing the exam.  Any Hints?

Dr. Lowery,

I took a review class with you a couple of years ago in San Antonio.  Unfortunately, I have yet to pass this test.  I have taken several commercial review classes and am preparing for the test in a week or so.  I really want to pass this test.  I have spent a lot of money on it and have actually taken the EIT three times previously without passing. I just wanted to see if you had any advise that might help me out for the test.
Thanks in advance for any advise that you may have.


Joe:  One of my students took the exam a 7th time before passing.  And he wasnít a bad student at all.  He just didnít perform well taking 8 hour exams.  Still, whatever it finally cost him, heís now making it all up and more.  Now Iím not saying you should go into bankruptcy to pass it, but pretty close.

What you should be hoping for is grades in the past of 62, 59, 68, around there.  Showing that you are always within striking distance.  Grades like 45, 58, 65 are particularly encouraging. 

You should also consider if there is something beyond your control that is keeping you from passing.  One of my students failed it and came to talk about it.  I knew that he had a disability since the school always gave him double time to take my exams.  I asked him if they gave him that extra time on the FE and he said he didnít know he could get it.  Yes.  You can.  You wonít be able to get it this time, since you have to ask for it immediately upon signing up and they will not budge just because you just found out you are eligible, but next time you can get it.  By law.

You may well think that you have no disabilities, but I have had several students go and check, and were told otherwise.  Dyslexia seems to be one of the most common.  But if you canít test well packed into a small space for 8 hours, or if others around you mumbling to themselves and coughing with flu-like symptoms completely blank your mind, itís still prevents you from performing to your potential.  And if itís severe enough they will make accommodations for you. 

You should also see http://www.ldonline.org/article/6082/  

Finally, if you have some spare time and arenít actively working on other materials, I would suggest you review the videos at http://engineeringregistration.tamu.edu. They seem to do a good job on helping you pass.

O) What changes and updates should I watch out for on these videos?

To whom it may concern,

I would like to start off by saying thank you for putting this program together. I utilized the videos for my FE exam at Oklahoma State in 2007 and benefited from them so much that I decided to watch the PE videos for my test next week. I'm a soon to be licensed civil engineer taking the Transportation  portion of the PE exam next week. How current are the videos and notes, and what information has changed that I need to watch out for? I'm attempting to cross reference my Lindeburg with your notes but I feel it would be a much better utilization of my time if I ask you instead.  Also, could you recommend any other free websites I can go to that would have beneficial material I can study?  

Again, thank you for making this video set for free.



As far as I know, the main things that have changed in the Steel Design section are things like bolt strengths were increased in the AISC 14th edition, and the equation for Cb for lateral torsional buckling changed.  I am sure there are similar changes in the specs for transportation since these videos were produced.  See




 Seems like 2009 is a popular number.  Regardless, your Lindeburg text will always be best, since they update it constantly.  I would use the tapes only for examples on how the problems are worked.  Other than that, water still runs downhill and stress = P/A.

I know everyone who worked on this project was asked to generate the modules more along how to work the problems, knowing that the specs would change over time.  For example, when calculating Cb in the steel design section, it will be obvious to you that the equation has changed, but the numbers that go into it, and its purpose, are the same.  My guess is that the traffic video will still be useful in the same manner.

I am not aware of any other free sites.  The only reason this one is free is that Fort Hood paid for it for their troops' use, and let us publish it.   

Congratulations on passing the FE, and I wish you good luck on the PE exam,


P) My company doesn't have an in-house P.E.  How can I get the required engineering experience?

That can be a problem, but is no means insurmountable.  First, read carefully all of the information at http://engineers.texas.gov/lic_basic.htm regarding required experience and what experience is acceptable.  One of the key statements is:

While gaining experience, it is equally critical that you document it in such a way that you can summarize it for the Board. As you go about your weekly tasks, you should keep a detailed diary of your activities: the starting and ending dates of the project(s) on which you worked, name and address of each employer, job title(s), the name, present addresses and phone numbers of the engineers and other persons with which you personally worked who can serve as a reference to substantiate your experience, identification of the project, the scope of the project, and the engineering activities that you personally performed.

Note that they do not say that the engineering work you did has to be for under the direction of your boss, or even someone in your company.  Merely that you have to find out which registered professional engineer actually checked/accepted your engineering work and put their seal on it, showing that it was properly done. 

Now if you say that no engineer ever verified your work, then by definition it wasn't what the Board considers engineering.   If you reply, "Well, it was the design of a small dam or of a sewage collection system or the roof trusses used in a 100 unit apartment complex", then we have a serious problem.  Somewhere, an engineer must, by law, be involved in such projects.  That is the person who you must track down.  Contact them and explain that you are documenting your required experience to get licensed, and ask if they would serve as a reference for you on this project.  Most will be happy to, since they have already been through this themselves, and it is considered part of the obligation of all professional engineers to assist those coming into the profession.        

Note that the site listed above also explains how to collect and maintain the information you must submit you when you apply for registration.  One thing they don't mention is that you must carefully maintain long-term contact with your references, whether they are in-house or not.  If your boss moves to another company and you don't know where, you just lost the ability for the Board to verify that experience, and, fair or not, that means you just lost that experience.  Keep in touch with them every 3 months or so.  Write them an email saying how the project is going/went.  Attach photos of various stages of construction. Tell them you appreciate their assistance in getting registered and ask if they have any other advice.  Whatever.  But the minute their email bounces, dig out their telephone number and find out where they moved and re-establish contact. 

That is critical.